New Stony Brook University campus residences policies that would make residents financially liable in the instance that residence halls would close this fall due to COVID-19 were rolled back after student backlash on social media.
In the event of a student housing closure because of COVID-19, the new policy would have required students to pay potentially thousands of dollars in room and board fees. Students would have also had to pay for other services that cannot be used off-campus like meal plans. Posts on Stony Brook University social media communities from Facebook groups to Reddit statements from students calling to amend the clause, along with a petition that garnered over 3,700 signatures.
On July 17, the university sent an email out to resident students and the press that responded to the feedback and concerns they received, and indicated that the policy has been changed to include provisions in case residence halls are temporarily or permanently closed.
“In the event that Campus Residences terminates housing due to public health concerns, the University will offer a fair and reasonable reimbursement of the housing fee for impacted students as appropriate and based on information available at that time,” the policy now reads.
Lamiya Jubaed, a junior biology major who created the successful petition, said although she did not expect so much support, she was happy that the Stony Brook University community unified to change the liability policy.
“I created the petition because I thought that the policy put students in a very difficult and unfair position during a global health crisis,” Jubaed wrote in an email to The Statesman. “On top of that, for another SUNY like Binghamton University to have a completely opposite housing policy made it even more clear that the policy in place at our school did not make sense. Why would Stony Brook students have to pay for a room if they can’t use it, especially when other schools promised to reimburse their students?”
Although she was originally uncertain about whether she would return to campus housing after she saw the liability agreement, Jubaed is excited to dorm at the university without having to worry about being financially liable if the pandemic were to close campus housing again.
“With the current circumstances regarding the pandemic, the future is very uncertain,” Jubaed wrote. “It was a big risk to think about going back and not getting a refund on housing and meal plan fees if the university closed due to COVID-19… I’m so proud of our community coming together to stand up for what was right.”